First-degree murder charge in connection with human remains found in Quebec City

Quebec prosecutors added new charges on Friday, including murder, in connection with the discovery earlier this month of human remains in the provincial capital area.

François Bouchard, 31, of Contrecoeur, Que., was charged with first-degree murder at the Quebec City courthouse in the killing of Santiago Gaona. His co-accused, Cassandra Major, 31, of Prévost, Que., and Jean-Phillipe Lamontagne, 44, Blainville, Que., were charged with accessory after the fact to murder.

The three suspects were arrested on the evening of Sept. 17 in the Montreal-area Mohawk territory of Kahnawake and originally charged with committing an indignity to a body. Human remains were discovered earlier that day in a field in L'Ancienne-Lorette, a town near Quebec City.

Quebec City police determined the remains could be connected to a killing in Contrecoeur, located 200 kilometres southwest of the capital. Provincial police were called to take over the investigation.

According to his Facebook profile, Gaona, 26, was a musician living in Montreal, and originally from Colombia. His sister launched a fundraising campaign online to help cover his funeral costs.

Court documents say Gaona's killing likely occurred between Sept. 8 and Sept. 16.

After Friday's hearing, prosecutor Jean-Simon Lamarche told reporters that the case was complex and the next steps involve completing the disclosure of evidence to the defence lawyers.

The case returns to court in Quebec City on Nov. 24.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2023.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the co-accused faced charges of conspiracy to commit murder.